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January 22, 2013

2 Min Read
Chicago Alderman Proposes Ban on Energy Drinks

CHICAGO The energy-drink market might have to play politics in the Windy City. Edward M. Burke, a city council member representing Ward 14 in the Gage Park neighborhood, last week introduced an ordinance that would ban sales of energy drinks in Chicago.

The alderman's ordinance defines an energy drink as "a canned or bottled beverage which contains an amount of caffeine exceeding or equal to 180 milligrams per container and containing Taurine or Gaurana." It claims manufacturers have been able to "avoid federal regulation unlike the soda and juice industries" by labeling such products as dietary supplements.

Burke's proposal isn't the first attempt in Chicago to crack down on the energy-drink market. Alderman George Cardenas last month introduced a proposal that would have barred minors under the age of 21 from buying energy drinks, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.  Cardenas, Health Committee Chairman, subsequently told the newspaper he was no longer advocating for such a ban.

"We started with a big, broad ordinance that could bring everybody to the table and have good results. That was the aim," he said. "My aim was not to ban anything, but to accomplish the goal of not having teens or kids die from lack of education about these drinks that could harm them."

Alderman's proposed ordinance cites high caffeine levels in energy drinks like Full Throttle, Monster, Red Bull, Rockstar and and 5-hour Energy. Representatives of Monster, Red Bull, Rockstar and 5-hour Energy did not immediately respond Tuesday to emailed requests for comment.

A lawyer pointed out an irony in the proposed ordinance: it would exclude dietary supplements like Monster, Rockstar and 5-hour Energy because dietary supplements are distinguishable from beverages.

The proposed ordinance cites the death of a 14-year-old girl whose fatality has been linked to the consumption of Monster Energy drinks. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has emphasized there is no causal connection to date between Monster and the death of Anna Fournier, although the agency is investigating her death and other fatalities, as part of a broader probe into the safety of the energy-drink market.

Monster Beverage Corp. last week criticized a Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) report that stated the number of emergency room visits involving energy drinks doubled to 20,783 visits in 2011 from 10,068 visits in 2007. "The DAWN report reflects no medical finding or diagnosis that consumption of energy drinks was, in fact, the reason for the patient's emergency room visit," the company said.

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